Player Profile: Trajan Rhome’s consistency key to Southside’s offense

Published 8:51 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — “Next man up” becomes more than a mantra for Southside when injuries mount like they have this season. It becomes necessity.

The Seahawks endured a three-game losing streak in September. The losses were partly due to stagnant offense resulting from injuries — a problem only compounded by the stiff competition they faced. They mustered just one touchdown in losses to North Duplin and Tarboro teams that are a combined 17-0. Then Pamlico County stood tall at its goal line to prevent Southside from punching in the game-winning touchdown.

Through all the injuries and the mid-season skid, senior running back Trajan Rhome has been a steady presence. He’s one of few running backs to play in all nine games thus far. Staying healthy has helped him amass a team-leading 611 yards and seven touchdowns.

But it’s not like Rhome hasn’t been banged up this year. He had to fight through a shoulder injury. That didn’t stop him from running for 125 yards and a touchdown against Riverside on Friday.

“He was actually battling back from an injury this week,” head coach Jeff Carrow said after Southside’s win over the Knights. “He hurt his shoulder and we kept him out of contact just about all week. He was able to get back. … For him to be able to step back in and for Jamari Nelson to step up, it was huge for us.”

It took Rhome some time to ease his way into that game. Forgoing contact all week and then jumping into a physical game is a tough task. It might have played a role in Rhome fumbling the ball away twice in the first half.

“It’s tough,” Carrow said, adding that Rhome didn’t want to go the week leading up without taking hits in practice. He had to do the same with Hayden Mayo in the previous week. “We’d keep them out of contact for a week, then they’d step up and be fresh for us.

“It’s huge, along with the guys like Jamari Nelson and Yahkiel White. Those guys are stepping into roles, not necessarily as starters, but as rotation backs.”

Like a battle-tested senior, though, Rhome responded with a sound second half. He carried much of the load as Southside meticulously drove down the field to begin the third quarter. Rhome put the exclamation mark on the drive with a 2-yard score that pushed the Seahawks’ lead to 24-6.

“I think that’s why I had those two fumbles in the first half, but I recovered in the second half,” Rhome said of bouncing back from his shoulder injury. “(Riverside) was aggressive, so I had to hit the holes pretty hard. That’s how I broke open.”

More than his individual performance, Rhome said it felt best to run away with a win over Riverside. The Seahawks and Knights have played thrillers in the past few years, so winning by two possessions yields confidence for Southside as the home stretch of the regular season arrives.

Rhome and the Seahawks host Northside for senior night on Friday. They’ll travel out to South Creek to wrap up the season next week.